Essay Darwin Bombing

Death and destruction, courage and mateship, desertion, chaos and looting - this is the untold story of what really happened during the bombing of Darwin in February 1942…and how the nation would know nothing about it.

Following the fall of Singapore, many feared a Japanese invasion was imminent, but with the bulk of its troops overseas, Australia was unprepared and ill equipped for war on its own doorstep. On the 19th of February the nations darkest fears would be realised.

At 9.58am Japanese bombers and fighter planes appeared in the sky over Darwin and began a day of carnage. By its end the surprise attack would leave over 250 people dead, a town in burning ruins, eight ships sunk and an air-force base carpet bombed into oblivion.

To this day it is one of Australia’s greatest disasters.

This was an attack led by the same Japanese force that attacked Pearl Harbour, yet more civilians were killed, more bombs were dropped and more ships were sunk in Darwin. However, the magnitude of this attack and the death and devastation that followed has for decades remained virtually unknown. Why?

Drawing on long-hidden documents, using dramatisations of the Lowe Royal Commission and first person accounts, The Bombing of Darwin: An Awkward Truth reveals the true story surrounding the attack.

Incorporating some rarely seen archival footage, evocative re-enactments, eyewitness accounts from survivors and expert commentary, The Bombing of Darwin: An Awkward Truth finally reveals the little known facts about the bombing raids on the 19th February 1942 and the disturbing events that occurred in their aftermath.

“There was a Coral Sea, a Pearl Harbour…but there’s no name given to Darwin,” says Anti Aircraft Gunner Jack Mullholland . “And it was a battle. There’s no exaggeration when I say that. And yet Australia knows nothing about it.”

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